• Groundwater Contamination in the Cortaro Area, Pima County, Arizona

      Schmidt, Kenneth D.; Harshbarger and Associates, Tucson, Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1972-05-06)
      High concentrations of nitrate have been found in water samples from irrigation wells north of the Tucson Arizona sewage treatment plant. The plant, which had primary treatment prior to 1951, produced 2,800 acre-feet of effluent in 1940, 4,600 acre-feet in 1950, 16,300 acre-feet in 1960, and 33,000 acre-feet in 1970. Large amounts of treated effluent recharge the groundwater system north of the plant. Sources of nitrate contamination beside sewage effluent may be sewage lagoons, sanitary landfills, meat packing and dairy effluent, septic tanks, and agricultural runoff. Sewage effluent is considered to be the primary source of nitrate contamination in the area. Geologic and flow net analysis indicate that aquifer conditions minimize the effects of sewage effluent contamination. Chloride and nitrate migration appears to be similar in the aquifer. Large-capacity wells were sampled to reflect regional conditions, and chemical hydrographs of chloride and nitrate were analyzed. The seasonal nature of these hydrographs patterns depend on total nitrogen in sewage effluent. Management alternatives are suggested to decrease nitrate pollution by sewage effluent.